Mac Pro vs Dell Precision

Continuing my previous post, I thought I needed to compare the higher end Apple systems with something from Dell or HP. The problem is…they each only have like one high end workstation with dual Xeon processors. It took a fair amount of digging around to finally get something similar to the Mac Pro from HP and Dell, but I manage. Guess what, the Mac Pro still comes out as the cheaper system…let’s take a look:

Mac Pro – $3048

  • (2) Quad Core Intel Xeon (2.8GHz)
  • 2GB ECC DDR2 RAM
  • 320GB SATA HDD (7200RPM)
  • ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB (Two dual-link DVI)
  • SuperDrive (16x Dual Layer DVD Burner)
  • No Monitor
  • AppleCare (3yr Support)

Dell Precision T5400 – $4197

  • (2) Quad Core Intel Xeon X5440 (2.83GHz)
  • 2GB ECC DDR2 RAM
  • 320GB SATA HDD (7200RPM)
  • 256MB PCIe x16 nVidia NVS 290, Dual Monitor DVI Capable
  • 16X DVD+/-RW w/ Cyberlink PowerDVDâ„¢ and Roxio Creatorâ„¢ Dell Ed
  • No Monitor
  • 3 Year ProSupport for IT and 3 Year NBD Onsite Service

Look at that. Over $1000 in price difference between the two systems and hardware wise they are nearly the same. Yes, I know the video cards are not exact but the upgrade price to higher end cards that are similar run about the same price so I opted to just not mess with changing those specs. If you are really that curious, feel free to go configure these yourself and compare. Personally, I can’t afford either system so I’m happy to just see something close for a comparison.

Oh, and trust me…you do not want to see the numbers I came up with on the HP build. After about an hour of poking around their site, I only found one dual CPU workstation and it started at over $5300. Granted, it had a few upgrades from what I quoted above, but not enough to justify another grand or so on top of the Dell build. But then, I’ve always known HP is far more overpriced than any other manufacturer out there as I have ordered well over a million dollars in HP servers and desktops and notebooks over my career.

Anyway, the point is this: Apple computers are not overpriced. The entire problem that causes the perpetuation of this misconception is that they do not have any true mid-range systems. You have the Mac Mini, the iMac, and the Mac Pro. All of these are at very different price points and capabilities and there isn’t much you can do to get something between them. They are not a Dell with 50 or 60 models to choose from before you get into bolting on upgrades. The beauty of this is the simplicity. The downside of this is the misconception that they charge too much.

Still to come…Macbook and Macbook Pro vs Dell

  • Anonymous

    [http://kennguyen.wordpress.com/2008/04/22/mac-vs-pc/#comment-50]
    “If that were true then it gotta be a really good news to me, jarek! So many thanks, blonde-guy!”

  • Ken

    [http://kennguyen.wordpress.com/2008/04/22/mac-vs-pc/#comment-50]
    “If that were true then it gotta be a really good news to me, jarek! So many thanks, blonde-guy!”

  • Sarkastik

    Low End Mac did a similar comparison 🙂
    http://lowendmac.com/ed/fox/08ff/mac-pro-vs-dell-hp.html

    I tried it out too and it does seem cheaper even though it’s still a lot of money 😛
    But I think it might be slightly cheaper in the US compared to Australia?

  • Sarkastik

    Low End Mac did a similar comparison 🙂
    http://lowendmac.com/ed/fox/08ff/mac-pro-vs-dell-hp.html

    I tried it out too and it does seem cheaper even though it’s still a lot of money 😛
    But I think it might be slightly cheaper in the US compared to Australia?

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  • Mark

    I’m not a Mac guy….. Well, until next week when my new Mac Pro comes in.

    I work for one of the largest software companies in the world and needed a new Windows workstation for home..

    Before seeing this article I priced out a Dell and priced out a Mac Pro. The Mac Pro was about US $1300 cheaper.

    I also noticed this was a Apples to oranges comparison (pun intended). What I mean is the Apple uses E5462 (2.8ghz) CPU’s and the Dell uses E5440 (2.83ghz). This difference is the Apple has a FSB of 1600mhz while the Dell is 1333mhz (I assume the apple is going to be a little faster). Also, the memmory is 1/2 FSB speed (800mhz on Apple, 667mhz on Dell). Again, I assume the Apple will be a little quicker.

    I intend on running Vista or XP on the machine, but will probably keep Leapord intact (dual boot) just so I can play with it a little as a learning exercise.

    ps- did I mention the Apple case is prettier.

    Well, Apple is building my computer and I should have it within the next few days (got the 8800xt video card).

    Cheers for now,

    Mark

  • Mark

    I’m not a Mac guy….. Well, until next week when my new Mac Pro comes in.

    I work for one of the largest software companies in the world and needed a new Windows workstation for home..

    Before seeing this article I priced out a Dell and priced out a Mac Pro. The Mac Pro was about US $1300 cheaper.

    I also noticed this was a Apples to oranges comparison (pun intended). What I mean is the Apple uses E5462 (2.8ghz) CPU’s and the Dell uses E5440 (2.83ghz). This difference is the Apple has a FSB of 1600mhz while the Dell is 1333mhz (I assume the apple is going to be a little faster). Also, the memmory is 1/2 FSB speed (800mhz on Apple, 667mhz on Dell). Again, I assume the Apple will be a little quicker.

    I intend on running Vista or XP on the machine, but will probably keep Leapord intact (dual boot) just so I can play with it a little as a learning exercise.

    ps- did I mention the Apple case is prettier.

    Well, Apple is building my computer and I should have it within the next few days (got the 8800xt video card).

    Cheers for now,

    Mark

  • @Mark:

    Thanks for pointing out the FSB difference. I missed that somehow. I tried to make sure to qualify the comparison as being close but not exact because I was unable to find an exact hardware match. I am glad to see that people are starting to look at the different systems more closely to make decisions.

    By the way, be careful. The Apple path is a slippery slope. I bought my iMac out of a desire to have a fast system with a tiny footprint. I now have an iPhone and will soon be purchasing a MacBook Pro to replace my Dell Inspiron. I’ve just found that the systems are super fast and really reliable for the things that I want to do on a computer. If your purchase meets your needs like that, you may find yourself buying more and more from Apple.

    But I am still not a fanboy. I like my MS stuff just fine, thank you.

  • @Mark:

    Thanks for pointing out the FSB difference. I missed that somehow. I tried to make sure to qualify the comparison as being close but not exact because I was unable to find an exact hardware match. I am glad to see that people are starting to look at the different systems more closely to make decisions.

    By the way, be careful. The Apple path is a slippery slope. I bought my iMac out of a desire to have a fast system with a tiny footprint. I now have an iPhone and will soon be purchasing a MacBook Pro to replace my Dell Inspiron. I’ve just found that the systems are super fast and really reliable for the things that I want to do on a computer. If your purchase meets your needs like that, you may find yourself buying more and more from Apple.

    But I am still not a fanboy. I like my MS stuff just fine, thank you.

  • t

    Interesting comparison but points out the key diff. between Apple & Wintel- the midrange is a sweet spot for a lot of users. For example, you can get Intel Quad 9550 rig upgradeable to 8gigs of ram from Dell in the $1K range (less if Dell 20% coupons or Dell outlet), and add a 24″ 2408WFP PVA monitor ($517 w/ coupon right now) and have a pretty damn good mid-range graphics/video platform that still has flexibility for upgrading the hard drives and vid cards (up to 2 of each) and optical drives. With Apple you'd have difficulty matching that flexibility with an iMac, and a Mac Pro would be overkill. I'm not advocating for either but in that range I think Dell/HP Wintel offers some compelling options. Agree that at the MacPro range, for dual processors, right now you have to get a Workstation (always pricey) in the Wintel range. But maybe w/ Skulltrail mbs out there there will be prosumer options that are cheaper.

  • You have some good points, but you missed my point with this post. I was trying to build a Wintel system that was as close as possible in hardware and software to a Mac Pro to see how the prices compare…bang for the buck so to speak. The result is with all things being equal, the Apple system is cheaper. The difference is that Dell, HP, and the others offer lots of levels of systems that do not equate to anything Apple offers.

  • Loraine

    really well i just did a compare myself to see if it was right with a dell precision T3400 that came up to 2,325 and the mac pro that came up to 4, 717.31. Now the Dell system had more features than the mac pro and hardware also. it runs more and so i have to argue with your comparison. If your going for high tech i would definatley choose the Dell, because your gonna like put software unto the pc and there are lots of software to go with the dell while at moment there arent as much options with the mac….

  • I'd like to point out you built a system that has a single Core2 processor, not a system using dual Xeon processors. So yes, you built a far cheaper system. It is also nowhere near the specs of the Mac Pro I used in my comparison. You will need to go at least to the T5400 line to have dusl Xeon processors for a more accurate comparison.

    FYI – the Harpertown CPU that is standard on the Mac Pro is the E5440, so make sure you configure your Dell correctly. I hit over $4,000 before I got past the memory options on the Dell where the Mac Pro was still at $2999…and that was today. As for software, I haven't found much that is PC only these days in the realms of software that I could conceivably use. However, after saving over $2k by getting the Mac Pro, I think I could afford a copy of Windows and VMWare Fusion and still put money in my pocket.

  • Now that I have done a new comparison, change the video card on both systems above to the 1.5GB nVidia Quadro-FX 5600 and both systems have three 500GB hard drives. Now change the totals as follows:

    Mac Pro – $6348.00
    Dell Precision T5400 – $7475.00

    I'd like to know the exact hardware specs you used to get such disparate numbers between the Dell and the Mac. Anyone can just throw some random options together and call out the totals to skew the results any way they wanted, that is why I give a listing of which options I chose…to show I'm getting the systems built as close to identical as possible.

  • Loraine

    really well i just did a compare myself to see if it was right with a dell precision T3400 that came up to 2,325 and the mac pro that came up to 4, 717.31. Now the Dell system had more features than the mac pro and hardware also. it runs more and so i have to argue with your comparison. If your going for high tech i would definatley choose the Dell, because your gonna like put software unto the pc and there are lots of software to go with the dell while at moment there arent as much options with the mac….

  • I'd like to point out you built a system that has a single Core2 processor, not a system using dual Xeon processors. So yes, you built a far cheaper system. It is also nowhere near the specs of the Mac Pro I used in my comparison. You will need to go at least to the T5400 line to have dusl Xeon processors for a more accurate comparison.

    FYI – the Harpertown CPU that is standard on the Mac Pro is the E5440, so make sure you configure your Dell correctly. I hit over $4,000 before I got past the memory options on the Dell where the Mac Pro was still at $2999…and that was today. As for software, I haven't found much that is PC only these days in the realms of software that I could conceivably use. However, after saving over $1,100 by getting the Mac Pro, I think I could afford a copy of Windows and VMWare Fusion and still put money in my pocket.

  • Now that I have done a new comparison, change the video card on both systems above to the 1.5GB nVidia Quadro-FX 5600 and both systems have three 500GB hard drives. Now change the totals as follows:

    Mac Pro – $6348.00
    Dell Precision T5400 – $7475.00

    I'd like to know the exact hardware specs you used to get such disparate numbers between the Dell and the Mac. Anyone can just throw some random options together and call out the totals to skew the results any way they wanted, that is why I give a listing of which options I chose…to show I'm getting the systems built as close to identical as possible.

  • Tex

    Um you guys are leaving out the important part on the price/purchase system. On the dell you can call a rep and have the price slashed by a much bigger factor. The dell will ALWAYS ALWAYS be cheaper. Systemshootouts.org was always off, this comparison is much more fair. Just missing the part where anyone buying a precision or server calls a rep and gets a deal.

    • The problem with that is there is no way to quantify the amount of discount. It really depends on the deals available, the rep you get, quantity ordered, and many other factors. I felt the best way to do a comparison would be to work strictly off list prices from their sites. I do think, though, now that you have mentioned it that I should have put a “YMMV” disclaimer for discounts/sales/etc. It’s also time I do a new set of comparisons.

  • fieryhail

    I own a Mac Pro 2,1 (2x 3GHz) and am extremely pleased. I have used Precision machines before, and they do not seem to have the same performance. The only thing I can think of is the OS, OS X 10.6.x is rock-solid, and on equivalent hardware, faster than Win 7 x64. The downside is that with my model, I have the EFI32 not the EFI64. Which means that I can not boot a ntive 64-bit Snow Leopard kernel, however, I have no difficulty running 64-bit apps. When 32GB RAM becomes a limiting factor, I will either look at upgrading my MacPro to 64GB (unsupported by Apple of course) or looking into the 12-core MacPro which handles 64GB nicely and SHOULD handle ever more. HP’s, I find to be overpriced for what you get, no arguments there. Very informative writeup, and non-biased which OI also like.

  • fieryhail

    PS, Apple will also work with you on the price point, especially for the Mac Pro customers. They don’t budge much on their consumer models, but the Mac Pro they WILL work with you.